Updated on 10 March 2014
Dr Mark J Poznansky, president and CEO, Ontario Genomics Institute
In 1997, the human genome was still years away from being fully mapped. Our knowledge of how genes turn on and off, and how they interact with one another was still in its infancy. Research was expensive, slow and so complex that digging down into individual genomes for meaningful information seemed almost unimaginable.
Today, such analysis is fast, cheap and easy. The former trickle of data has become a flood. Genomics research has burst out of university laboratories into every day, with many companies now offering ordinary customers information about their genetic predisposition to hundreds of diseases and conditions.
This revolution has occurred alongside some equally powerful global transformations. Demographics have changed - in many areas of the world, aging populations and longer lifespans create new demands for health-care systems - nearly a quarter of Japan's population, for instance, is over 65.
Meanwhile, the increasing wealth of countries such as China, India, Brazil and Russia create new health-care related expectations and concomitant challenges.
Since its founding 16 years ago, the Ontario Genomics Institute has kept pace, becoming a driver and catalyst for Ontario's life sciences industries - those companies that deal with health, agriculture and the environment. Among other things, OGI helps ensure that Ontarians contribute to the rapidly expanding world of personalized medicine.